Monday, January 15, 2018

The Breast of the Story

Greetings from seven weeks postpartum!

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If you need me, I'll just be staring into these eyes all day long.

I am well. Era is doing well. He's a healthy human heifer and I love it. He's in the 98th percentile for weight, length, and head size, so, needless to say, this kid is not missing any meals.

And that's why I wanted to yap about breastfeeding. It's amazing! It's crazy! It's weird! And right now, it's my life.

I.


I took an ABCs of Breastfeeding class before my boy was born. This is kinda what I expected:

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Put that coffee down. Coffee contains caffeine and may upset your baby's stomach.

I guess it's for the best that the sweet Canadian grandmother who lead our class didn't call us names à la Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, but she did lay some heavy truths on us. Your nipples will hurt. Kids sometimes can't figure out the whole latching deal. You will basically be an on-call buffet.

While the technical aspects of feeding a tiny human with your body were helpful, this class was invaluable to me primarily because it prepared me for the haze of days with a newborn. For the first time, the reality of waking every couple hours to feed a new person dawned on me. I was going to be exhausted. I was going to be counting poops. I was going to need help.

When I met Quincy for dinner after the class, I was brimming with new information and ready to have hard conversations over hard tacos about the size of a newborn's stomach, the intricacies of nipple care, and the power of a well-placed pillow.

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Go and do likewise, gents.

I could - and did - research baby care all day long, but that class was what really got me ready for new motherhood.

And it takes brass balls.

II.


Everything I read about breastfeeding chirped with an upbeat tone:
- If you do it right, breastfeeding will not hurt.
- It takes about 20 feedings for your nipples to toughen up.

LIES.

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Early morning feeding with my chubby, uncharacteristically grumpy boy

Era was a pro at latching and basically taught me everything I needed to know about keeping him in milk. However, even his expert abilities didn't mean pain-free chest time. It took a solid three weeks  of consistent milking sessions before I quit wincing at each feeding.

Now, I don't think twice about stuffing a nipple in his kisser, but it was a long slog of lanolin applications, shielding my sore tatas from the hot water in the shower, and exploring supportive undergarments.

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"Seconds, please."

Hurty boobs are the worst, but I never considered other options because, let's face it: bottle feeding is way more work.

III.


I recently polished off a two-pound tin of butter cookies. I regularly eat my entire burrito at Chipotle. I have a "usual" order at Dairy Queen.

I've always been a pretty good eater, but nothing in my life can compare to the famished feelings I have as a lactating lady. I mean, I've been hungry before. I've been so starved, I felt sick. But this is an active, loud hankering unlike anything I've ever experienced. If being peckish is a gurgle in the gut, this is a rapacious racket resonating throughout my entire being.

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We're both always hungry.

They say that breastfeeding broads should ingest about 500 more calories than normal. I have no idea how many calories I'm cramming, but I do know that I want all of them to be ice cream. Or cookie dough. Or some combination of the two.

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You don't get cheeks like these by missing meals.

I will divulge that I am just about back to my pre-pregnancy weight, so I have to assume that everything is going straight from that Lucky Charms box to Era's irrepressible cheeks. Thank goodness.


IV.


In the early days after Era arrived, I read an article in the Stranger about nursing, and was blown away by the preternatural powers of breastmilk. To help the little one begin to differentiate daytime from night, my body was slipping the appropriate hormones into my milk. The researcher quoted in the article noted that "day milk is going to have a completely different hormonal milieu than night milk."

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Sleeping babe, sleepy mom

And thus, this musical parody was born.

Night Milk (to the tune of Bob Seger's Night Moves)

He's a little large
Puttting on a few pounds
Size three diapers fit best, we found
I'm a sleepy mommy with bags under eyes
Rolling out of bed to this little one's cries
So loud, these cries

In the dark house, where the cats run scared
In the comfort of my family's rocking chair
Working on the mysteries of what makes babies tick

Workin' on the night milk
Hoping that my hormones do the trick
Workin' on the night milk
In the dark nighttime
Mmmm
In the stinking darkest nighttime


V.


I know that breastfeeding isn't for everyone. (Especially grown-ass adults. Get out of my Flickr feed, fetishists!)

Frankly, it's been a little rough being at the beck and call of a baby, but feeding my kid with my body is just the latest miracle in the long strange trip that is motherhood. I feel incredibly lucky to be able to have this connection with my kid, and keep trying to remain grateful. Even in the middle of the night.

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2 comments:

sandra lees said...

Awww! You made me tear up!!

Becky Haltermon Robinson said...

Then my work here is done! 😁